Everything in this world has its own story to tell. Whether it’s sad, happy, angry or what, there is always a story.
For Storya Kitchen + Bar, located at the busy corner of Kalayaan Avenue and V. Luna Extension in Diliman, Quezon City, it’s just like any typical startup business story, but with a few elements that can be described as extraordinary. That can also be said about the food they offer, which is already gaining quite a good following, especially on social media.
How the story of Storya came about
ACCORDING to Storya co-owner Laurenci “Renci” Gabriel Gutierrez, every business has its own story to tell so they decided why not make the place a story in itself. “We just added the letter ‘A’ to our brand to make it more Filipino but with a strong recall and probably generate more word of mouth, which is important to the business.”
Though he tried to pursue an Architecture degree, it would seem that Renci was destined to be in the food business. He worked in so many odd jobs until he ended up working for a popular international restaurant chain, first as a busboy and then became a manager. At one point, he even worked overseas for a time.
When he came back to the country, that’s the time he decided to go full blast in the food business. Together with co-owner Rizza Umlas, who is the youngest and first female bartender from the Philippines to ever win in the TGIFridays’ World Bartender Championship in 2016 in Dallas, Texas at 21 years old, it was like go-for-broke for them.
“We went to many places but the problem was that they are either too big or too small, and don’t fall in the concept of the L-shaped area we are looking for. That was until we were directed by somebody to try this place,” which is the current address of Storya Kitchen + Bar at Kalayaan Centerpointe Bldg., Kalayaan Avenue corner V. Luna Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City,” Renci recalled.
Rizza said they wanted a place that exuded a comfortable vibe and chose this building because they wanted Quezon City residents to go to this area and not some faraway city like Makati or Ortigas in Pasig. “We saw the struggle of QC residents in going to different bars. They had to endure traffic, parking, etc.”
Renci calls their area “the heart of Quezon City” because he said that when one looks at a map, the area is located right at the center of Quezon City. “I really consider this building as a blessing to us, a gift of God when we came to the point of giving up in looking for a place of business.”
Collaboration is the secret
WITH regard to the food they offer, Renci and Rizza made sure that they would not offer to the public something that is ordinary. “We really wanted it to be extraordinary,” Rizza said, “that’s why we have our Sisig Sa-Wrap, our Puto’t Dinuguan, our Smoked Laing Pasta, Pork Sinigang, all ordinarily named dishes but are extraordinary in appearance and flavor, like the Sinigang that doesn’t have soup but still tastes like Sinigang in every way.”
Even their from-scratch Pan de Sal with a siding of delectable butter mixed with a mild hint of muscovado sugar, which they serve as complementary food while waiting for their main course, was chosen because pan de sal is a ubiquitous part of Filipino life, according to Rizza. “It’s a no-brainer choice of food that Filipinos will love with or without ‘palaman,’ something that they can eat while waiting for their food to arrive,” she said.
The best thing about Storya is that they have no head chef, no head bartender or what. Everything that comes out in terms of food concept and served to guests are all part of a totally collaborative effort by each member of the Storya team, exclaims Renci.
Family is key
IN Storya, Rizza said it is all about family. “You might think that it is easy to say we’re targeting families but indeed, everything considered in putting up Storya was all about family – the food serving size, the ambiance, even the tables, has the family in mind. We made an effort to discover how families celebrate special occasions, or even simple gatherings.”
Even the bar, Renci chimes in, was really designed for the family because it is not the typical bar as a hangout place for friends or colleagues after work, which can become rowdy. “With Storya Bar, it’s a friendly area even if we serve alcoholic drinks; it’s a place to unwind, relax after a tiring day. It’s very hard these days to find a bar that’s not too noisy, not dark or chaotic. There’s no bouncer here or security guards, which is common in most drinking bars. This is really a chill place.”
When asked by BusinessMirror if Storya’s success would merit another branch somewhere, Renci chuckled that there’s nothing more difficult than putting up this first one. For them, this is something like a risk-it-all venture, play-all-your-cards kind of thing. “We had a plan even if some may think it was too risky, but we felt that we can be successful, moreso that we didn’t even do a feasibility study, which is a must for any business startup. We were determined to make this business successful by focusing on providing extraordinary service aside from the extraordinary food. We make sure to know what diners would need even before they ask for it. That’s the kind of service philosophy we want to espouse.”
Storya Kitchen + Bar is at Kalayaan Centerpointe Bldg., Kalayaan Avenue corner V. Luna Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, and is open from Sunday to Thursday at 11 am to 12 am, and Fridays and Saturdays at 11 am to 1 am.